I copped some magnificent flack over the piece I wrote about the Suns last week. Called these franchises heartless; and the response was to send me some lovely hate mail. Stay classy guys.
Anyway, the Suns. These boys have now had 3 seasons of gym and skill training at the elite level. A lot of the talent they’ve managed to draft and assemble will be on show on Saturday night against the Lions and the Demons.
Unlike last night’s, delightful 2011 finalists round-robin, all of these three sides are coming off dismal seasons.
The Lions; gutted by injury were brave in many of their matches but their youngsters found it hard to deliver the four points. Redden, Rich and Rockliff; (Or Triple R as I affectionately call the three of them) are going to lead the Lions into a new era with the help of fresh faces and old hands alike.
Melbourne went backwards: 30-goal hidings, Scully-gate and the unfortunate, yet inspirational story of Jim Stynes would see the Dees erase all the memories of a year best left forgotten. They have been criticised for their professionalism towards training by club insiders and have looked to correct that in the off-season.
WHY SHOULD YOU TUNE IN?
For one, the man mountain is back. Jonathan Brown is set on recapturing his spot in a side which missed his presence during last season.
After two occasions in which he shattered his face in numerous places; it will be interesting to see how he attacks the ball and every contest. Furthermore, we should also get an insight into whether his body is starting to pay the price after years of his courageous playing style.
Redden and Rockliff look to move closer and closer to being elite players. With Pearce Hanley emerging as a great prospect of half-back, tracking his game is one for those in the Fantasy Football realm. Also, Cornelius and Karnezis look to give a glimpse to the future of what a Brown-less Lions forward line is to look like.
Name them. Go.
All those draft picks from 2010 will be beginning to hit their straps, and quite possibly prove that they can take the club to the next level.
David Swallow, Zac Smith, Harley Bennell and Sam Iles all look to have become faster and stronger. Jaeger O’ Meara has been the talk of the footy world for the past 18 months as being the next shooting star – so all eyes will be on his first serious hit out.
More importantly, will The Suns show gradual improvement, or will they stun, shock and even bewilder the footy world by becoming a formidable opponent?
New coach. New Leadership Group. New Era for Melbourne, right? It should be.
Nathan Jones seemed adamant that he and his fellow teammates were put through the hardest pre-season of their lives; seeking to exorcise the demons that have plagued Melbourne from creating a stable team for nearly a decade.
Aaron Davey should be one to watch. Does new coach Mark Neeld play him up forward in the role that started his career, or does he persist with his half-back experiment?
Davey is man who has to bring something out of the blue or his days may be numbered. Bright sparks are everywhere for the Dees: Trengrove, Grimes, Watts, Howe, Petterd.
The growth of this group may be enough to break Melbourne’s finals drought for the first time in over half a decade. Mitch Clark against his old side will also provoke interest, but I think we should really wait until Round 1 for sparks to fly.
I see all clubs taking out a game each. With all too close to call, and the trialing of game plans by all coaches, you’d have to be an extremely lucky punter to wager on all three games with 100% success. However, don’t be surprised if the Dees do win both their hit outs. They are looking to make a statement early.
Fox Footy, Channel 604 – 7:00pm EST, 6:30pm CST, 4:00pm WST.
2. Ryan Harwood, 3. Sam Sheldon, 4. Jared Polec, 5. Billy Longer, 6. Joshua Green, 7. Jed Adcock, 8. Bryce Retzlaff, 9. Ashley McGrath, 11. Pearce Hanley, 12. James Hawksley, 16. Jonathan Brown, 17. Claye Beams, 18. Todd Banfield, 19. Jordan Lisle, 20. Simon Black, 22. Ben Hudson, 23. Matthew Leuenberger, 24. Joel Patfull, 25. Richard Newell, 26.Elliot Yeo, 28. Patrick Karnezis, 30. Jack Redden, 31. James Polkinghorne, 32. Cheynee Stiller, 33. Amon Buchanan, 34. Jesse O’Brien, 35. Ryan Lester, 36. Matt Maguire, 38. Tom Rockliff, 41. Mitchell Golby, 43. Rohan Bewick, 44. Aaron Cornelius, 45. Brad Harvey, 47. Jack Crisp.
1. Jaeger O’Meara, 2. Zac Smith, 3. Jared Brennan, 4. Maverick Weller, 5. Jarrod Harbrow, 6. Alik Magin, 7. Karmichael Hunt, 8. Luke Russell, 9. Gary Ablett, 11. Harley Bennell, 13. Hayden Jolly, 14. Matthew Warnock, 15. Piers Flanagan, 17. Josh Fraser, 21. Jeremy Taylor, 23. Charlie Dixon, 24. David Swallow, 26. Matt Shaw, 30. Campbell Brown, 31. Jackson Allen, 33. Aaron Hall, 35. Michael Rischitelli, 36. Sam Iles, 37. Alex Sexton, 38. Joel Wilkinson, 41. Dion Prestia, 42. Kyal Horsley, 43. Liam Patrick, 44. Nathan Bock, 45. Steven May, 47. Daniel Gorringe, 48. Seb Tape, 49. Jacob Gillbee, 51. Andrew McQualter.
2. Nathan Jones, 3. Clint Bartram, 4. Jack Watts, 5. Jordan Gysberts, 6. Matthew Bate, 7. Jamie Bennell, 8. James Frawley, 11. Mitch Clark, 12. Colin Sylvia, 14. Lynden Dunn, 15. Ricky Petterd, 16. Jack Grimes, 18. Brad Green, 20. Colin Garland, 22. Brent Moloney, 25. Tom McDonald, 26. Daniel Nicholson, 27. Jared Rivers, 28. Joel MacDonald, 30. James Sellar, 34. Stefan Martin, 36, Aaron Davey, 38. Jeremy Howe, 40. Mark Jamar, 44. Rohan Bail, 46. Josh Tynan, 47. Tom Couch, 48. Jack Fitzpatrick, 49. James Magner.